Take a peek at my list of the best mentor texts for teaching opinion writing to elementary students. These 12 titles will be a game-changer for your students to better understand the expectations of writing an opinion piece. Plus, they get to hear great literature!
Why do you need to use opinion mentor texts in the classroom?
First up, let’s just acknowledge the importance of using mentor texts when teaching writing. The simple truth is that WE know what we expect our students to do, but our students have no idea! Students need to be exposed to examples of the writing genre we are teaching.
Mentor texts aren’t just great for exposing students to the genre; they are also powerful for explicitly teaching the structure and features. For example, we can show examples of reasoning. We can show an author’s use of transition words. Overall, mentor texts can be compelling.
Let’s dive into my recommendations! FYI, I recommend these books in my third-grade opinion writing unit (which you can check out here).
Let’s check out the best mentor texts for teaching opinion writing. Please note that this blog post features Amazon affiliate links (if you purchase, I make a small commission, at no cost to you).
‘Duck! Rabbit!’ by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Can you decide whether it is a duck or a rabbit? In this book, students are presented with an optical illusion that could look like a duck or a rabbit. Students will quickly see one or the other. Will they be able to let their guard down and see the other animal, or will they just want to argue?
Teaching idea- This book presents students with the concept of right and wrong. As well as when to let go of an argument.
You can check out the book here.
‘Which Would You Rather Be?’ By William Steig
This is a great book to use for opinion writing because it asks simple ‘would you rather?’ questions to the reader. Students must pick a side. Would you rather be a rock or a stick? They are simple, silly questions, but students will learn to defend their opinion and practice hearing the other person’s argument.
Teaching idea- Use this book to give your students opinion writing ideas or just to practice forming and defending an opinion verbally.
Click here to look at the book.
‘My Favorite Thing’ By E. Lockhart
Alberta is a feisty little girl with LOTS of opinions! She only likes small dogs, gummy candies, and baths, but do you know what she loves best of all? Students will love reading the story to find out the thing Alberta loves the best, and I bet they will have lots of guesses too!
Teaching idea- Have students write or verbally share the things they love the best. To take it a step further, you could have students find someone that shares one of their favorite things.
Check out the book here.
‘Dog Vs. Cat’ By Chris Gall
I am sure your students will have an opinion about this topic; dogs or cats. In this story, Dog and Cat find out they have to share a room, but how can they possibly get along? They try to be on their best behavior, but Dog howls too much and Cat primps too much. They hit a breaking point and just can’t get along. Will they be able to solve their issues?
Teaching idea- Have students pick a side and write about why that animal should get the room to themselves. Have students share aloud and see if anyone changes sides.
You can find the book here.
‘My Teacher For President’ By Kay Winters
A boy shares his nomination for president; his teacher. He gives many reasons why his teacher would make a great president, like she wants peace, is followed around at school, and goes to meetings all the time. The illustrations are excellent in this book, with the teacher being drawn into the white house and other presidential scenes.
Teaching idea- Have students make a presidential nomination and give reasons why that person would make a great president.
See the book here.
‘The Perfect Pet’ By Margie Palatini
Most students will relate to this story since wanting a pet is a phase most children go through. Elizabeth wants a pet; she really doesn’t care what it is; she just wants one! So Elizabeth sets out to convince her parents she needs one, but they just get her a cactus. Then one day, Doug shows up. Doug is a bug, and he makes the perfect pet for Elizabeth.
Teaching idea- Students will have an opinion about what animal would make the best pet! Students can write and share their opinion pieces about which animal is the best,
Check out the book here.
‘Emily’s Perfect Pet’ By Jonathan Shipton
It is Emily’s birthday, and she wants a pet. Her parents aren’t too keen on the idea, but they are willing to hear her reasonings. This book does a great job showing students the importance of gathering thoughts and being organized in your opinion pieces. Will Emily be able to convince her parents she can get a pet?
Teaching idea- Have students pick three pets and make arguments for each one. This involves students in the organizing aspect of writing opinion pieces.
You can get the book here.
‘Can I Bring My Pterodactyl to School, Ms. Johnson?’ By Lois Grambling
This character wants to bring a pterodactyl to school! He has lots of arguments about why it should be allowed but will his teacher let him? Students will love this silly story about bringing a dinosaur to school. They will also see another great piece of literature written in an opinion format.
Teaching idea- Have students write an argument for bringing something else to school (cellphones, video games, pets, etc.).
See the mentor text here.
‘Fact Vs. Opinion Vs. Robot’ By Michael Rex
Share with students the difference between a fact and an opinion. The robots do a fantastic job at giving readers lots of examples of facts and opinions and tips to figure out which is which. The robot characters are funny and help engage your students as they read or listen to the story.
Teaching Idea – Share some statements with students and ask them, ‘Is it a fact or opinion?’
Grab the book here.
‘A Fine, Fine School’ By Sharon Creech
Get students motivated to write an opinion essay when you tell them that they have to start coming to school every day of the year. This book shows both sides of the argument, and the students must make the principal change his mind!
Teaching idea- I love this story for opinion writing because students will be creative in their reasons for no school every day. Reluctant writers may even write longer pieces just to get their opinions heard about school all year long!
Check out the book here.
‘Stella Writes an Opinion’ By Janiel Wagstaff
Join Stella as she writes an opinion piece for her teacher. The book walks students through the steps and parts that must be included in an opinion writing essay. It is factual and informative but still tells a cute story about a girl wanting to bring snacks to school.
Teaching idea- Make a large poster about what to include in an opinion writing piece for the classroom while you read the book.
You can see the book here.
‘A Pig Parade Is A Terrible Idea’ By Michael Ian Black
Have you ever wanted to have a pig parade? The character thinks it is the worst idea ever! Pigs don’t like to wear the uniforms, they like the wrong kind of music, and so much more! Students will love this silly book for its incredible storyline and comical pictures. The character does a great job of giving many reasons why a pig parade is a terrible idea.
Teaching idea- Read this book and then have students think of something they don’t want to happen. Then have them write about this bad idea!
See the book here.
I hope this list of 12 opinion mentor texts is helpful in your classroom!
Need personal narrative mentor texts? Check out my post here about personal narrative mentor texts!
The books in this blog post are used in Unit 2 of my 3rd grade writing curriculum, ‘Opinion Writing,’ where students learn how to write opinion essays. Click here to check out the unit!
P.S. Click here to grab free activities from my free resource library!
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